Library and Information Literacy
English 113 (Expository Writing I) is flagged for “information literacy” within the general education curriculum. Given this distinction, it is integral to English 113 course goals and objectives that students become acquainted with the skills required to understand and effectively seek, identify, evaluate, and access, various forms of information existing within the rapidly changing and seemingly ubiquitous information environment. Each section spends several class sessions with a Research and Instruction Librarian who will teach students what it means to really “search”, and challenge them to think critically about the information they encounter. From the curiosity of a Google search, to an advanced database query, students will learn how to map out and navigate the many stages of a dynamic research-writing process.
These sessions will thus work towards the development of information fluency, acknowledging the two key facets of students’ information seeking behaviors, namely, the use of both in-house (library) tools as well as what is available online. The bridge between these two resource pools—the wider context of all searching—is the appreciation of research as an evolving, responsive process and the development of good search strategies.
Some of the more specific concepts and themes these sessions will address include:
- Defining and developing topics (“Presearch”)
- Identifying appropriate information resources for research stages
- Implementing search terms/strategy
- Accessing different types of information
- Analyzing and evaluating results critically
- Expanding and refining Internet research
- Incorporating and citing sources
It is certain that the development of such skills requires the students’ full career as undergraduates, but library sessions for English 113 classes should have the space necessary for beginning to develop them. Ideally these sessions will be timed to coincide with a research paper, preferably one that allows students the flexibility to truly explore a topic or question by interacting with, and incorporating, a variety of sources into their work. Since writing assignments naturally vary between sections of English 113, professors are encouraged to collaborate with “their librarian” to determine how these information literacy objectives can best be met in conjunction with their unique approaches to the course.
Defining and developing topics (“Presearch”)
- Where do I begin?
- Is my topic too broad? Too narrow?
- What are the main concepts and pertinent vocabulary terms related to my topic?
Identifying appropriate information resources for research stages
- When and why do I use:
- Reference sources?
- Books and eBooks?
- Journal articles?
- Primary and secondary sources?
- How do I go about finding them?
Implementing search terms/strategy
- What is the difference between keywords and subjects?
- What are “fields”?
- How should I be combining terms (i.e. Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT)?
- How are these different?
- When should I use quotation marks? Truncators?
- When I get no results for a search, how should I change it?
- How do my search strategies vary from database to database?
- Do any of these tactics apply to Internet searches?
Accessing different types of text in/via the library
- How do I locate books in the library once I have identified some titles?
- How do I access library eBooks? Are print books better?
- How do I get from database search results (i.e. title, abstract, etc.) to full-text articles?
- What if our library does not own a particular book or article?
Analyzing and evaluating results critically
- How do I know what type of source I’m looking at?
- What gives an author credibility to be writing on my subject?
- How well does this source actually address my topic/question?
- What are the sources of information used by the author(s) of this source?
Expanding and refining Internet research
- Is it possible to find reliable, academic resources online without using library search tools?
- How can I identify authorship/authority of freely available online information?
- Are Google “autocomplete” search term/phrase suggestions my best bet for getting the most relevant information?
- What is the difference between .com, .org, .edu, and .gov websites?
- Is everything I find online considered a “website”?
- Is there a place for Wikipedia in college research?
Incorporating and citing Sources
- Why does it matter for me to cite my sources?
- What tools will help me do this properly?